Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Either I'm Right or God's A Liar?

I posted the following on Facebook a couple of weeks ago:

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel. ~Jesus

For whatever reason, a zealous Preterist took this as an opportunity to showcase his eschatological prowess. (I too am preteristic, but not rabidly so.)

Our short conversation is below. My friend’s words are bold and italicized.

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“Is the time "At Hand" now? Or was the "Time At Hand" when those words were written?”

I would think "at hand" meant then, what it means now.

“If they apply to both equally, then God is a deceiver. The same event cannot be "AT HAND" in the first century and still be "AT HAND" 2000 + years later. It stretches incredulity and makes a mockery of the language.
Either God said what he meant and it applied to the people that it was originally written to or he is playing us and lying to us.”

In no sense is God a deceiver. (I have no idea why Bible believing Christians say such things to each other over matters of interpretation. It's sad. It really is.)

I think your confusion may come from what is meant by "the kingdom of God," not what is meant by "at hand." ("At hand" seems clear enough. I think most folks understand the expression similarly.)

Jesus ushers in the kingdom of which He speaks. In fact, in a very real sense, Jesus is the kingdom. He is the kingdom incarnate. We enter the kingdom when we enter Him.

The church (the body of Christ) also represents the kingdom of God (where God rules and reigns in the hearts of His people). As the Gospel spreads and people convert, the kingdom spreads and fills the earth (think of Jesus' parable of the leaven). God through His church is furthering the kingdom all over the world.

The kingdom is here, now. Because the kingdom of Jesus is here/now we may—without a shred of deception—proclaim the same message of Jesus Christ: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."

I see no reason in the world to change Jesus’ original message or meaning.

6 comments:

  1. Steve, I do not have a preteristic bone in my body or mind or heart; I do agree with your answer to your friend.

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  2. Steven when was the "time" fulfilled" ?

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    1. When Jesus says "The time is fulfilled" He is speaking in the present tense...He is speaking of Himself and of the time in which He is speaking (Mark 1:15). I suppose we could paraphrase Him and say, "The time is right now."

      This seems awfully straightforward to me. I see no textual or theological reason to complicate it.

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  3. With more then 100 time statements in the New Testament, how do you interpret them on light of audiences relevance?

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    1. I'm certainly not going to offer a "blanket statement" or a generic way to interpret "100 statements" in the NT. Context should dictate interpretation, not a theological presupposition or a "one-size-fits-all" hermeneutic.

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